Carlo Ubbiali, who has died aged 90, was one of motorcycle racing greatest champions, winning nine world titles as he dominated the sport’s smaller engine classes in the first decade of Grands Prix.
One of four children, Ubbiali was almost born in the saddle, on September 22 1929, his father Giovanni being a mechanic who later had a concession for the MV Agusta marque. At the age of eight, Carlo was already working the throttle when, seated in front of his father, the pair travelled by motorcycle from their native Bergamo to Milan to watch a race.
三级成人视频His other vivid early memories were of the war, for instance of a Tiger tank being parked outside the family’s workshop – and how the assembled crowd scattered when its commander pretended to machine-gun them. When Carlo was 15 he used a sidecar to take victims of shelling to hospital.
In 1947, he won a race around the circuit of Bergamo’s walls, using an ex-Afrika Korps DKW 125 borrowed from the head of the city’s Flying Squad. He was disqualified, however, when the Agusta-mounted entries protested that he had altered his identity papers so as to appear to be already 18.
三级成人视频Nevertheless, his performance, and that in subsequent outings, caught the eye of the manufacturer’s owner, Count Domenico Agusta. The firm had originally built aircraft, but this activity had been banned following the war and he had retooled as a maker of motorcycles.
Grand Prix racing was first staged in 1949, and Ubbiali would in time become the last survivor of that inaugural year. Riding for Agusta, he finished fourth in the 125cc championship. More notably, however, he won a gold medal in the International Six Days Trial, an endurance event, staged that year in Llandrindod Wells (a fellow competitor was Murray Walker, the future commentator).
三级成人视频Ubbiali had journeyed to Wales by train, and victory came despite being forced to recommence his trip alone, without a word of English, after discovering he was the victim of a prank which saw his luggage – and passport – left on the platform in Milan.
These were the days when racers travelled to race tracks through a Europe still shattered by war, and when, before the advent of television coverage or specialised protective gear, they risked their lives for little more than a season’s fame.
Despite his triumph in Wales, Agusta declined to engage him for the following year and he moved to Mondial. Italian bikes then reigned supreme – Gilera, Moto Guzzi and Morini were other leading manufacturers – and in 1950 Ubbiali won his first Grand Prix, in Northern Ireland.
That year he also finished first in the Milan-Taranto race, completing the 807 miles in 13 hours. He fainted at the line, having suffered various breakages that had forced him to push the bike through Bari with the help of spectators; this led to his then being disqualified.
三级成人视频Still with Mondial, he took the 125cc title the following season, albeit in an era when championships consisted of at most half a dozen races. His golden years came when he teamed up with Agusta again in 1952. Riding the four-stroke Bialbero, which had a top speed of 115mph, Ubbiali won the 125cc class in 1955, 1956, and from 1958 to 1960.
三级成人视频He also took the 250cc crown in 1956, 1959 and 1960, having only entered at the behest of Count Agusta, who was desperate to best the German NSU bikes which were sweeping all before them.
三级成人视频Ubbiali was a meticulous racer whose successes owed more to tactics than risk-taking. Indeed, he was renowned for his safe riding and only ever had one serious crash, at the Dutch Grand Prix in 1957. He said he concentrated on very precise track positioning, braking and acceleration, and would spend much of a race analysing an opponent’s weaknesses before attacking late on.
Nicknamed “La Volpe” – “The Fox” – Ubbiali would sometimes settle for a place rather than hazard all on a win, his eye being on the standings in the table. Nor was he above a certain amount of gamesmanship, shifting his body to suggest he was going to brake and then not, or releasing his grip on the handlebars and fiddling with his engine in order to distract a fellow competitor.
三级成人视频One stratagem he honed with his brother Maurizio, who managed him, was to decide lap times in advance so as to disguise his true speed and be able to surprise an opponent. Ubbiali won 39 of the 74 Grand Prix he entered and came second another 20 times. He scored five victories in Isle of Man TTs, including winning both the 125 (by a margin of five minutes) and the 250 classes in 1956. Ubbiali also took eight Italian titles.
三级成人视频He retired in 1960, aged 30, a decision prompted by his recent marriage and by the premature death from cancer of his brother. The costs of racing had greatly increased, too, and Agusta was planning to leave the sport, aware that the new Japanese two-stroke engines were about to transform it.
三级成人视频But for Agusta’s policy of not giving rides on its 350 and 500cc machines to lighter men – Ubbiali was slight of stature and weighed 8st 6lb – he might have won more titles. As it was, he was the first racer to win nine, a feat matched by Mike Hailwood and Valentino Rossi, and only surpassed by Angel Nieto (with 13) and Giacomo Agostini (15). It was Ubbiali who pressed Agusta to sign the younger Agostini, who also came from Bergamo.
三级成人视频Ubbiali subsequently took over his father’s business, although his career in commerce would experience more bumps than that in racing. He could come across as brusque and gruff, and felt in later years rather forgotten by the sport he had graced, though between 1998 and 2000 he returned to it as an adviser to the LCR 125 team.
三级成人视频He is survived by his wife Mariella, with whom he had two sons and two daughters.
Carlo Ubbiali, born September 22 1929, died June 2 2020